- Category : Science-Physics
- Type : MEG
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 4
Austrian-born physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women's scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee.
After receiving her doctorate at the University of Vienna (1906), Meitner attended Max Planck’s lectures at Berlin in 1907 and joined Hahn in research on radioactivity. During three decades of association, she and Hahn were among the first to isolate the isotope protactinium-231 (which they called protactinium), studied nuclear isomerism and beta decay, and in the 1930s (along with Strassmann) investigated the products of neutron bombardment of uranium. Because she was Jewish, she fled Nazi Germany in the summer of 1938 to settle in Sweden. After Hahn and Strassmann had demonstrated that barium appears in neutron-bombarded uranium, Meitner, with her nephew Otto Frisch, elucidated the physical characteristics of this division and in January 1939 proposed the term fission for the process.
Some historians who have documented the history of the discovery of nuclear fission believe Meitner should have been awarded the Nobel Prize with Hahn in 1945.
On a visit to the USA in 1946, she received the honour of "Woman of the Year" by the National Press Club and had dinner with President Harry Truman and others at the National Women's Press Club. She lectured at Princeton, Harvard and other US universities, and was awarded a number of honorary doctorates. Lise Meitner refused to move back to Germany, and enjoyed retirement and research in Stockholm until her late 80s. She received the Max Planck Medal of the German Physics Society in 1949. Meitner was nominated to receive the prize three times. An even rarer honour was given to her in 1997 when element 109 was named meitnerium in her honour. Meitner was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1945, and had her status changed to that of a Swedish member in 1951.
In 1966 Hahn, Fritz Strassmann and Meitner were jointly awarded the Enrico Fermi Award.
Lise Meitner received 21 scientific honours and awards for her work (including 5 honorary doctorates and membership of many academies). In 1947 she received the Award of the City of Vienna for science. She was the first female member of the scientific class of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In 2008, the NBC defence school of the Austrian Armed Forces established the "Lise Meitner" award.
In 1960, Meitner was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal and in 1967, the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.
After the war, Meitner, while acknowledging her own moral failing in staying in Germany from 1933 to 1938, was bitterly critical of Hahn and other German scientists who had collaborated with the Nazis and done nothing to protest against the crimes of Hitler's regime.
Meitner became a Swedish citizen in 1949. She finally decided to retire in 1960 and then moved to the UK where most of her relatives were, although she continued working part-time and giving lectures. A strenuous trip to the United States in 1964 led to Meitner having a heart attack, from which she spent several months recovering. Her physical and mental condition weakened by atherosclerosis, she was unable to travel to the US to receive the Enrico Fermi prize and relatives had to present it to her. After breaking her hip in a fall and suffering several small strokes in 1967, Meitner made a partial recovery, but eventually was weakened to the point where she moved into a Cambridge nursing home. She died on 27 October 1968 at the age of 89.